This movie is based on Molly Bloom’s memoir, “Molly’s Game.” Molly has a fascinating story which is well told by Writer/Director Aaron Sorkin. Jessica Chastain stars as Molly and actually looks very much like the real Molly Bloom. (See Tues., 1/2/18, LA Times Calendar Section – “No More Poker Face.”)
Molly was an Olympic-quality skier, but a freak accident prevented her from being on the Olympic team. She decided to take a gap year before starting law school and live in L.A. This angered her perfectionistic, controlling, and nearly-impossible-to-please father (Kevin Costner), so he cut her off financially. Molly then gets a job as an executive assistant to a man who runs a high-stakes poker game. Rumored to be among the players at this weekly game were Leonardo DiCaprio and Toby Maguire. Eventually, Molly starts her own game in L.A. and, two years later, moves the game to NYC. Molly ran a totally legal operation in L.A., but crossed the line in NYC.
The FBI learns about the game and comes down extremely hard on her to try to force her to give up the players’ names. They take the money from her accounts (several million) and threaten her with a long jail sentence unless she gives up the names of the players, which she refuses to do despite the high personal cost. She also loses out on a potentially-very-lucrative book deal for the same reason. Molly hires a lawyer, Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), to defend her from the criminal charges. The first half of the movie is how Molly winds up running her own game, while the second half is about her defense and her relationship with Jaffey. (I won’t say any more about the plot, for fear of spoiling it.)
As typical of Sorkin, his script is very wordy, but intelligent and well-written. Chastain and Elba give fine performances. This film is about 20 minutes too long, but, if you find the story line interesting (as I did), you should see it. If you do, I predict that you “won’t lose your shirt.”